Schweizer 2-33A C-GFMC - Schweizer 2-33A C-FQMH - Epilogue

Report / August 14, 2012 / Project number: Schweizer-Glider-CGFMC-CFQMH-B-Cat

Location: Netook Airport, AB
Date: 14 August 2012
Status: Investigation Completed

Air Cadet glider familiarization flights were being conducted from the Netook airfield when the weather began to deteriorate.  The Site Commander determined the best way to secure the gliders was to place them in their hangar, one Km from the launch point, and that first launching and then recovering them near the hangar was more efficient than ground towing.  While attempting to winch launch the first glider, the launch rope broke.  Before the rope was repaired, it began to rain and it became apparent that there was no time to tow the gliders to the hangar.  The Site Commander then decided to secure them on the flightline using tie-downs.  As a rapidly approaching line of thunderstorms intensified the wind and rain, personnel weighed down the gliders by sitting in their cockpits while others held their wings and tails.  Before additional tie-downs could be installed, a strong wind gust sent the lead glider airborne, pulling the tie-downs out of the ground.  The glider nosed up and rolled right while also drifting downwind.  It then impacted the ground in an inverted attitude 80 feet from its initial location before continuing to drift an additional 100 feet.  The glider’s occupant was injured when he was ejected from the cockpit; two others were also injured.  When the first glider became airborne, the occupant of the second glider climbed out of the cockpit.  Minutes later, this glider also became airborne and impacted the ground in an inverted attitude 75 feet from its initial location before continuing to drift an additional 65 feet.

The three injured personnel were transported to hospital, treated for minor injuries and released later that evening.  Both gliders sustained very serious damage.

The investigation focussed on weather, decision-making and tie-down capabilities at Netook.  Distraction of on-site personnel and the guidance provided in the Air Cadet Gliding Program Manual (ACGPM) for weather and glider ground handling were also examined.

The investigation concluded that the speed and severity of the approaching storm front caught both weather forecasters and the gliding staff by surprise.  While the decision to cease air operations and secure the gliders in place was the safest option available, the lack of proper tie-downs left the staff and gliders in a vulnerable position to weather the storm.  ACGPM weather considerations and ground handling guidance were found to be inadequate.  It was recommended that all gliding sites be assessed for the installation of permanent or temporary tie-downs.  Other recommendations included the use of external spoiler devices and tail stands during ground operations and restrictions to personnel from entering glider cockpits during high wind conditions.

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